Frontstretch Staff · Wednesday September 14, 2011
The “Regular Season” came to an end Saturday night with Kevin Harvick shaking off his Summer slump to score his fourth win of the season. He was one of the few cars to make it through the night without significant damage in a race slowed by 15 caution flags. Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch played bumper cars twice during the event while Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit just about everything but the pace car during the 400 laps. Fortunately for Earnhardt he was able to bring his ride home in 16th which allowed him to secure the final spot in the top 10 and a position in the Chase. Tony Stewart’s night was a little less eventful, as he soldiered home to a quiet seventh place finish.
Did Harvick’s win give him a push up the standings to the top spot? Jeff Gordon came home in the third spot, was that good enough to keep him in the number one position in the rankings? Has Dale Earnhardt’s slow and methodical approach been enough to keep him in the top 15? Check out this week’s Top 15 Power Rankings to see if your favorite driver was avoided the carnage that befell 25 cars Saturday night or if he ended up in the garage waiting for NASCAR’s permission to get back on the track.
|FRONTSTRETCH TOP 15 POWER RANKINGS: SEPTEMBER 14th|
|Rank||Driver (First Place Votes)||Votes||Last Week|
|1||Jeff Gordon (4)||117||1|
|Seen slipping Kurt Busch a handful of Benjamins on the way out of Richmond this weekend.|
|Made the best of a bad situation at Richmond. Now, the key is to keep those pressure points from boiling over when it really counts.|
|The contract is signed, 2012 sponsors are in place and the best equipment is suddenly leaning Cousin Carl’s way once again. Nail a few backflips over the next ten weeks, and this guy’s back to being the best title contender not affiliated with Hendrick Motorsports.|
|4||Jimmie Johnson (1)||97||2|
|Kurt thinks he’s in Jimmie’s head. Jimmie thinks he’s in Kurt’s head. And the rest of the field is ready to run off and leave them butting heads if the two don’t cut it out and focus on the Chase.|
|Amazing that there was a huge blow up between drivers and another blow up between a driver and media and Harvick wasn’t part of either of them.|
|6||Brad Keselowski (1)||92||3|
|Momentum looks to have cooled just a little, but he still looks stronger than half the Chase field.|
|7||Kurt Busch||83||T – 8|
|The I Need a Hug Tour rolls on through Richmond.|
|You know NASCAR economics are a problem when one of the 12 Chasers doesn’t even have a sponsor lined up for 2012.|
|9||Ryan Newman||72||T – 8|
|While everyone is looking at his boss, Newman just might sneak in and snatch this title from under everyone’s noses.|
|Now that he’s in the Chase, will he make a charge or fold up his tent?|
|Won’t it be interesting if Stewart can win a championship without winning a single race?|
|Leading this year’s Mr. Mediocrity sweepstakes as the best driver not to make the Chase. But considering this time last year, when his team wasn’t even sure if they’d have paychecks to cash every Friday we’d consider 2011 a mild improvement.|
|13||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||44||T – 13|
|He limped into the Chase, but he made it. Now we’ll find out if Steve Letarte really can make the most popular driver in the sport a winner again.|
|Second is the first loser. Fourth? That sends you packing with a pink slip, heading towards the unemployment line instead of pulling the biggest upset in Chase history to date.|
|Led the fourth most laps Saturday night, although you wouldn’t know it from the television coverage.|
|Dropped Out: Martin Truex, Jr. (T – 13), Marcos Ambrose (15).|
|Others Receiving Votes: Mark Martin (23), Greg Biffle (22), Marcos Ambrose (22), Martin Truex, Jr. (19), Juan Pablo Montoya (12), Joey Logano (12), Kasey Kahne (11), Clint Bowyer (9), Regan Smith (7), Casey Mears (6), Dave Blaney (4), Jeff Burton (3), Stephen Leicht (2), Paul Menard (2).|
|Writer Voters Include: Phillip Allaway, Tom Bowles, Bryan Keith, Tony Lumbis, Vito Pugliese, Mike Neff and Garrett Horton.|
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